Obama Netanyahu Abbas 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Palestinian Authority Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's calls for fortnightly face-to-face meetings with PA President Mahmoud Abbas during upcoming peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel Radio reported on Saturday, citing an interview Erekat conducted with the BBC in Arabic.
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In the interview, Erekat added that it is too soon to establish who exactly will meet for negotiations, how often they will do so, and where the meetings will take place.
He emphasized that the most important issue determining the success or failure of the talks at this point is Netanyahu's stance on whether or not to extend the building freeze in the West Bank which is scheduled to end on September 26.
Netanyahu said on Thursday, in a meeting with his top advisers, that he planned to propose next week, at the launching of
direct talks in Washington, that he and Abbas meet every two weeks and come to agreement on the
principal issues that will then be fleshed out by smaller negotiating
He added that “serious negotiations in the
Middle East [require] direct, discreet and continuous talks between the leaders
on the key issues. That is why I am suggesting that the talks be conducted in
At the Thursday meeting, Netanyahu said that he would
personally conduct the negotiations with Abbas, and that his point man on the
Palestinian issue, Yitzhak Molcho, would be the chief negotiator in the meetings
between the teams.
He said he wanted a small negotiating team to conduct
“swift, thorough and serious” talks.
Among those expected to be in the
Israeli team with Molcho, Netanyahu’s point man on the Palestinian
National Security Council head Uzi Arad; the Foreign Ministry’s deputy
director-general of the Middle East department, Yaakov Hadas;
military attaché Brig.-Gen. Yohanan Locker; Director of Policy Planning
Ron Dermer; as well as a Defense Ministry and IDF representative. The
be augmented by other experts as the subjects demand. Increased pessimism in J'lem
about the possibility of the talks succeeding
meeting came as the PA’s threats to bolt the talks if Israel does not
10-month settlement construction moratorium increased pessimism in
about the possibility of the talks succeeding. The talks are scheduled
off in Washington on Thursday.
Israel “sees a great deal of importance in
the fact that the direct negotiations will open without preconditions,” a
statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office stressed.
The view in
Jerusalem is that the Palestinian talk of bolting from the negotiating
the moratorium is not extended is just a precondition in a different
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama’s special adviser Dennis Ross
was in the country, along with envoy George Mitchell’s top aide David
holding talks with Molcho. The American team is widely believed to be
find a formula regarding the settlement housing-start moratorium that
that issue from torpedoing the talks.
While various cabinet ministers
have spoken out vociferously in recent days against any type of
extension of the
freeze, with others – specifically Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan
advocating formulas whereby building would continue inside the large
blocks, but not in Jewish communities beyond the West Bank security
Netanyahu has not made any recent public statements on the
Netanyahu has said in the past, however, that the moratorium was
for a defined period of 10-months and no longer. At the same time, his
have said in recent weeks that the issue of settlements is one that
discussed during the negotiations.
The settlement construction moratorium
will expire at midnight on September 26, unless the full cabinet decides
extend it either in full or in part.UNHRC: PA is leading anti-Israeli
In a related development, a Foreign
Ministry paper documenting the ways in which the PA is leading
efforts in various forums around the world, from the UN Human Rights
Geneva to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, was presented
recently to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The document is believed
to be a counterbalance that Israel will have at the ready if the
say that settlement activity is harming the atmosphere of the
too, Israel will counter, do PA efforts against Israel around the world
mutual trust and the atmosphere for healthy negotiations.
A senior US
official said this week Washington expected that neither side would take
action to harm the atmosphere of the talks.
In light of work sanctions
Foreign Ministry employees are taking to equalize their work conditions
Defense Ministry and the Mossad, the Prime Minister’s Office announced
has asked the Defense Ministry’s procurement delegation in Washington to
with the logistics of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, since the Foreign
Ministry said it would not provide any support for the trip.